Utah is part of a three-team battle for the Pac-12 South title and the No. 12 Utes have no margin for error as they enter Thursday’s road contest at Arizona State. The Utes are in third place behind Colorado and USC and a loss to the Sun Devils would all but erase their division title hopes.
Utah still has a contest with first-place Colorado on the slate so winning to keep pace or catch the Buffaloes remains paramount but coach Kyle Whittingham has cautioned his players not to look ahead. “You have to take them one at a time,” Whittingham said at a press conference. “All the focus is on ASU. It’s great to be in the hunt come November and our guys understand that.” Arizona State dropped three consecutive games and four of its past five, and expects to have sophomore quarterback Manny Wilkins in the lineup. Wilkins has been plagued with ankle and shoulder injuries and missed two of the last four contests, and missed most of one of the other games.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1.
LINE HISTORY: Utah opened as 5.5-point road favorites and that number has remained all week. The total hit the board at 59.5 and has been dropping all week, as of Thursday morning the current number is 56.5. Check out the complete line history here.
Utah – LB Sunia Tauteoli (probable, undisclosed), RB Zack Moss (probable, undisclosed), RB Troy McCormick (questionable, undisclosed), RB Jordan Howard (questionable, undisclosed), DB Marcus Williams (questionable, undisclosed), TE Harrison Handley (questionable, undisclosed)
Arizona State – LB Salami Fiso (probable, knee), DB Armand Perry (probable, foot), QB Manny Wilkins (probable, stinger), DB Kareem Orr (probable, leg), DL Koron Crump (probable, knee), OL Sam Jones (questionable, foot), OL A.J. McCollum (questionable, undisclosed), WR Cameron Smith (questionable, undisclosed), DB Dasmond Tautalatasi (questionable, foot), Stephon McCray (questionable, undisclosed), WR Tim White (questionable, ankle), LB Christian Sam (doubtful, ankle)
WEATHER REPORT: It looks like a beautiful night at Sun Devil Stadium. The forecast is calling for clear skies, minimal winds and temperatures in the 70’s.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: On the surface it appears this game looks like a mismatch. But beware of a red faced, embarrassed Arizona State squad here tonight. Especially when you consider the Sun Devils are 11-1 SU versus Utah since 1977, and the Utes are just 1-7 ATS as road favorites since joining the PAC-12 conference. – Covers Expert Marc Lawrence.
ABOUT UTAH (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS, 5-4, O/U): Senior running back Joe Williams (758) has rushed for 683 yards in the past three games since ending his early season retirement and is taking pressure off of junior quarterback Troy Williams, who is completing only 54.6 percent of his passes. Troy Williams passed for 1,888 yards and nine touchdowns against five interceptions and senior wideout Tim Patrick is his favorite target with 29 receptions for 501 yards and five scores. Whittingham said the Utes expect to have the services of standout junior free safety Marcus Williams (three interceptions, two fumbles) after a two-game injury absence to aid a unit led by senior defensive end Hunter Dimick (seven sacks).
ABOUT ARIZONA STATE (5-4 SU, 5-4 ATS, 5-4 O/U): The return of Wilkins (1,421 yards, six touchdowns, five interceptions) provides a boost to the stagnant passing attack as leading receiver Tim White, a senior, hasn’t found the end zone despite team-best totals of 47 receptions and 573 yards. Junior tailback Demario Richard has a team-best 532 rushing yards and is expected back after missing the last game because of injury. The Sun Devils have been horrid on defense while allowing 36.6 points and 513.6 yards per game – 124th among the 128 FBS teams in the nationl – but junior outside linebacker Koron Crump is having a solid season with a team-best nine sacks.
Utes are 12-3 ATS in their last 15 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
Utes are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game.
Sun Devils are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a ATS loss.
Over is 4-0 in Utes last 4 games on grass.
Over is 8-1 in Sun Devils last 9 games following a bye week.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is all over the road team with 71 percent of wagers on Covers. The over is getting 60 percent of the action.